To the metaverse we go.
(Image courtesy of Mindgrub)
Baltimore tech agency Mindgrub Technologies is moving its official headquarters to the metaverse.
OK, so. First of all: What is the metaverse? It could be a mix of virtual reality, augmented reality and the blockchain, where you create a digital avatar that allows you to connect on the internet with the same amount of engagement as the physical world, akin to “Ready Player One.” It could be the future of work and everything else. It could also just be Zoom with extra steps.
The jury is still out on how the tech will eventually come to fruition, but Mindgrub is planting its flag in this new frontier with the creation of its internal Metaverse Committee. The committee will be piloting programs using VR meeting platforms like Spatial.io and Horizon Workrooms, along with prototyping with builder frameworks such as Minecraft VR, VR Chat and Mozilla Hubs.
“We want people now to be able to create these avatars of themselves, and they’re not just a human on Zoom, on video, and they’re not just a series of texts,” Todd Marks, CEO of the software agency and marketing consultancy, told Technical.ly. “They can create a persona of themselves much like they could in an office environment and be able to interact with each other’s personas better. Things like the Metaverse promises to have better interactions in a virtual environment.”
As of April 2021, 160 employees worked at Mindgrub, 50 of those from areas outside of Baltimore and remote. The plan was to maintain a hub for community in Baltimore, while expanding into other cities, as well. The team has since grown to about 200 employees, with 140 employees being fully remote — people who “will probably never go to an office again,” according to Marks.
For the other 60 employees, Baltimore is still Mindgrub’s physical headquarters. Mindpub in Riverside and the offices in Locust Point aren’t going anywhere. When it comes to distributed members of the workforce who enjoy coworking spaces, those aren’t going anywhere, either.
The crux of the issue is that the full team of 200 employees, spread across the country, has no place to physically meet in person, all at once. A virtual office in the metaverse will hopefully be the answer to that, Marks said. It could be a place where you can shut your digital office door to show you’re not taking video meetings, or where a coworker can walk by that digital door with their own avatar, and start a conversation that leads to the both of your avatars turning to a whiteboard in the digital space — one that now becomes a Figma room where you collaborate. It could all flow from voice to video to collaboration software seamlessly, with your avatar leading the way.
The metaverse “really pulls it together but adds that element of physical interaction that a lot of us generally miss,” Marks said. “By putting it in the metaverse, you can regain that physical interaction in an inclusive environment that everybody can get to.”
Marks has set a goal set for the end of the year — that Mindgrub’s bimonthly, 200-employee all-hands meets in the metaverse.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.